In a fatal accident, the driver operating the autopilot mode on the Tesla Model S car crashed into a truck and was killed. This has prompted a probe by the federal highway safety regulators, which was confirmed by the U.S. government and Tesla on Thursday.
The accident, according to the report from the Florida Highway Patrol killed a 40-year old man on a dry and clear roadway will add to the debate within the auto industry on the autonomous safety systems.
Luxury electric car maker Tesla said in a blog post that "neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."
It also said, "When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot 'is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,' and that 'you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle' while using it."
The agency probing the investigation said the crash "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash."
The Model S operated by the driver went under the trailer of the truck which was turning left before the car, however, the car kept going and hit a utility pole before it came to a stand still.
Tesla said, "the high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S."
The Autopilot mode was introduced in October last year, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors had cautioned that the function was still in beta mode and full 'hands-off' driving was not recommended.
Tesla in its blog said the customer who died was "friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla's mission."
The CEO took to Twitter and wrote, "Our condolences for the tragic loss."